He adds that as a practicing hospitalist who visits many hospitals and talks with hospitalists throughout the year, he is aware that many are very overworked.
In a phone conversation Tuesday, however, he cautioned that many hospitalists schedule their own work shifts, and may have only themselves to blame if their workload is too hectic.
"While some organizations (that employ or contract with hospitalists for their services) may have unreasonable expectations of what they can do, and that may lead to performance suffering, hospitalists may be complaining about some conditions they bring on themselves."
Hospitals that use hospitalists to manage care for admitting community physicians has been a dramatically expanding trend, with more than 34,000 hospitalists now practicing in more than 3,300 hospitals, according to the Society for Hospital Medicine. It conservatively projects the number to grow to 40,000 this year. In the late 1980s, Nelson notes, there were only about 200.
Of acute care facilities with more than 200 beds, four in five employ or contract with hospitalists.